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    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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I seen pretty people disappear like smoke

According to Kay Redfield Jamison’s book, Touched with Fire, artists and writers suffer from a disproportionate rate of manic depressive  and depressive illness. What’s up with that?

Look, I more than know my way around a mood swing, but is it part of an artistic temperament or is it just bad fucking luck? I know so many writers who struggle with depression and see how the depression powerfully colors the way they feel about their work. And sometimes stops them completely and sometimes for months and years. Many fear that medication with change or mute them. Is there truth to that? The suffering I’ve seen for untreated illness strikes me as far worse and sometimes fatal.

I once met a woman who had cancer who said she was grateful for the cancer because it taught her how to appreciate life. I’ve never, not once, felt grateful for being bi-polar. Does it make me more sensitive, empathic, attuned? No. It makes me bi-polar. Full stop. And I’ve lost years out of my life and I fear it like the bogey man under the stair. It never goes away. I only have learned to manage it better. Just this week, a publisher commented on how even-keeled I seem. High praise indeed for a girl jacked up on Lithobid. I am stable and every day I thank the pharmaceutical company.

What about you, moody blues? How are you managing out there? If you need help are you getting it? How does your mood affect your writing?

43 Responses

  1. I’ve loved writing most of my adult life. I had a children’s book “Who Made the Stars” self published thru Trafford Publishing dedicated to my sister who passed away from cancer in 2001 .I didn’t write it out of sadness but rather to honor her. I just fulfilled a dream to write a paranormal romance novel…but I have never suffered depression. I’m curious what the percentage is of writers that are depressed compared to those who have never suffered from it. I can see where someone having been through a period of depression might be much more aware of levels of emotion and sensitivity to life. It’s a very interesting observation and one which I had never considered before.

  2. And not just writers. Musicians, visual artists, and others are known as suffering from depression at a higher rate than the general population. But, it occurs to me, what if the difference is that we are transparent about it while others are not. Has anyone polled the hedge fund managers (before they got caught totally screwing the economy?) or plumbers or nurses?

    I’m inclined to suspect however that it is the case that we do suffer more from depression and other mental illnesses. And as regards my own struggle with depression, life-long, genetic and provoked by events, (nature and nurture), I think a lot about Adrienne Rich’s poem about Marie Curie, if I may:

    “She died a famous woman denying,
    her wounds
    denying
    her wounds came from the same source as her power. ”

    I suspect that these words are true in some way for all of us. Artists illuminate the realities of life that are oft hidden. And this is one of them.

    How do I cope? Drugs. Oh yes, better living through chemistry. I bless the scientists who developed the particular ‘cocktail’ that keeps me alive. I meditate. I laugh, at myself most of all but also at anything I can find. I listen to myself (getting better at that) to know when danger is lurking and have safety and sanity (and insanity!) plans to get me through.

    Bless you, Betsy, for being honest about this and your own struggles, and inviting this conversation. I’ve been away for awhile and am glad to catch up. For a crazy person, I manage to impersonate a normal one most of the time. Never fool myself though. Does anyone else?

    • Thank you Betsy, for giving us a safe place to talk about depression, and thank you Jan for your posting about medications.

      I have been taking prescription medication for depression for 15 years, and would become suicidal if I did not stay on it. The worst part of the medication, for me, is this toxic brain-deadening fatigue that I cannot get control of, no matter what I try — drink tons of coffee, take Provigil (a drug for narcoleptics) every morning — ALWAYS I feel like falling asleep. Consequently, my writing output is extremely low. I console myself with the fact that Graham Greene (reportedly) wrote no more than 500 words a day … but truth be told, many days I don’t even reach 250 …

      Does anyone else struggle with severe, overpowering fatigue like this due to medication for depression?

      • To answer your question, when I’ve been on antidepressants they didn’t affect me like yours. One of them slightly overstimulated me; it seemed to raise my metabolic rate so I was prone to sweating. You might wish you had that problem, but I didn’t like it. Some further comments:

        1. You mentioned coffee and Provigil, which are other drugs. One big thing you didn’t mention is exercise. Can you bicycle, or run, or take a fast walk, or a slow walk? How about a yoga class? I sometimes have to take a walk around my block to shake off lethargy. There are other options too, e.g.: discover the best time of your day and (if possible) schedule that as your writing time; try writing in public (park, coffee bar, library) in case a public setting makes you a little more alert.

        2. How many other antidepressants have you and your health-care provider tried? You didn’t say, leaving me to wonder. And have you considered TMS or ECT? Sorry if I sound like a brochure, but there ARE other options, and you’re not being served if you haven’t heard about them.

        3. I think you (this applies to other writers too) may be using a Procrustean bed by aiming for a daily writing goal that’s too big for you. Somehow, 1,000 words has become an ideal to which everyone tries to fit themselves; you console yourself with Greene’s figure of 500 but end up with 250 or less. If 250 is what you can (sometimes) do, aim for that and forget what other people do. Or forget the numbers entirely. Writing is hard enough, for most of us, without comparing one’s output to other people’s. How you’re doing depends on what you’re writing (and even on whether you’re writing), not on what someone else wrote.

        In case a personal example matters, I adapted a Henry James novel into an opera libretto, then crafted a monologue play about suicide (which is crappy, but at least I finished it), mainly by writing for short spells before work every morning. Most days I doubt I wrote 250 words. Small steps over time add up.

    • Hi Jan–
      Thanks for the thoughtful response to my question.
      I appreciate it.

  3. in my mind, it’s just stats. 1 in 4 people will suffer a depression in their lifetime. 1 in 8 people will be hospitalized for depression in their lifetime. i don’t know if linking causation to genetics or the environment is all that important. depression just happens.

    maybe artists are have more opportunity/interest/ability to express (consciously and unconsciously) their feelings through a variety of mediums?

    a housewife from Iowa who compulsively writes complaint letters for every tube of mascara she ever purchased may not fully understand her pathological behaviour. painting the image might bring that her behaviour into focus.

    re: being grateful for illness. i understand that i went into a depression. i’m grateful that i came out of a depression. that’s it.

  4. The lows are very low. The highs are very high. When I’m happy — manically happy — I sometimes think I am happier than anyone else in the world. “Pfft. Normal people with their average happiness.” I am happy with an obliterating optimism. Wild energy. Bottomless stores of resilience. But the extremes are not healthy. When I’m down I lie around on the floor like a corpse. Can get caught in a vicious cycle of not writing, feeling depressed about not writing, feeling too depressed to write, etc. The best thing for me is to write. Write every day. However much I hate it.

  5. I’m a psych major and I don’t know what to say. Learning to love your life doesn’t come from illness. That woman, with death looking her in the face, made a decision to be satisfied with what she had. In these ages, no one is ever satisfied anymore. No one is happy anymore. We want the next big thing. We want more of what we have. If we don’t have it, we want it. There is no state of happiness anymore, until you make the decision.

    I’ve been depressed before, and I know it’s not as easy as “I’m going to be happy today.” No, it doesn’t work that way. But when I’m depressed, I’m at my worst. I don’t see merit in anything I do. I see all of my faults. I see the worst of myself. How can I be happy that way? There isn’t a way to be happy if you aren’t simply happy with the way you are.

    But you can’t just change your thinking. Some people do it. Most people simply cannot. Where has will power gone to? Why can media make us do things but we, ourselves, cannot force our own selves to do the things we really need–think the things we really need to–or make the decisions that need to be made?

    The woman with cancer found a way to make her disease good. She was thankful for it but it was still threatening her life. You can hate it and love it at the same time. Duality. Is there nothing about your highs or your lows that are redeemable? Has being bipolar taught you nothing about yourself, other people, or the world?

    I’m always being told as a writer to take the cliche and twist it. Take the bad and twist it. Take the good and twist it.

    • It’s a sign of first rate intelligence to be able to hold two opposing ideas and still function. To know something is hopeless and want to improve it anyway (parpaphrasing from F. Scott Fitzgerald, but so what ?).

    • Thank you for that, Jessica Lei, especially the last paragraph. “Put a twist on it”–I’m going to try to remember it that way.

  6. Being miserable produces my very worst writing and brings out the worst in me as a person, so I can’t really be thankful for it. I especially hate it when I try and convince myself it’ll somehow make me a better writer one of these days, it feels so self aggrandising – seems to give more power to the problem to think of it as providing extra perception or inspiration. That’s just me though, I can’t deny that plenty of people feel very differently.

    I know creative folks whose lives have been smashed up and reshaped by both mental and physical illnesses and, ultimately, I’m glad to say they’ve managed the twist Jessica mentions – and to make some amazing work along the way.

  7. I try to write before my mood catches up to me. When it beats me to the keyboard, I let ‘er rip. Clean it all up afterward. Not that this works…

  8. having my first cup of coffee before the meds. then I can write about it; or not.

  9. I will go anon for this one. In my opinion/experience: writing recreates the experience of mild mania. Not wild out of control mania, but the gooood mania. When everything around you is heavy with meaning, when it is all connected and beautiful. So while being depressed/depressive is the opposite of writing, it also encourages writing. You want the mania BACK. (The good mania.)

    Medication is different for everyone, but I found that it made the good mania very hard (iimpossible) to achieve. It made me not feel like killing myself, so hurray! But with the suicidality went the intensity. Trying to write with passion one day and not fall into a black hole the next is my life’s work.

    I live with a writer who has never, ever been depressed. But he is naturally slightly manic All The Time. Everything is beautiful for him, interesting, connected, every day. I want that state, very badly. When I’m writing well, I pole vault up and into it.

    I’m one of your missing people, BL! These last years of wasted time have been a real shame. I’m sorry.

  10. A few days ago, I wrote a long post about my therapist *not* helping. And when I was medicated, that didn’t help much either. Luckily, I’m on the mild-to-moderate side of things, so it isn’t often I can’t handle or anticipate my lows.

    But I do think the same thing that creates my depressive tendencies creates my desire to write–it’s a hyper-sensitivity to everything and everyone I encounter. When you care too goddamn much about everything, you have to find somewhere to put it. The challenge for me is to channel it into something useful instead of writing piles of self-loathing, whiny poems. I guess that’s why I write such a whiny blog…to keep it out of the good stuff!

  11. Picture this….Sicily 1924…oh, heck, I’m still channeling The Golden Girls.
    Just finished a story called Children of the Wolf…inspired by Betsy’s question…I write, I can’t stop, my mind goes here and there, the waves keep streaking into me…I fight them, I accept them. I write, I write….

    It is the winter of 1934, and the wind howls from the Alps and it is now thirty degrees in the setting sun. The boys run naked before they die. Oh, those young boys.

  12. In the past, I wouldn’t have thought it my business to offer advice, especially when I was the one who needed it. Now I imagine I’ve learned something and there’s not much harm in it. It sounds as if the commenters have found ways to manage, but maybe someone among the lurkers hasn’t. So, just in case:

    1–If you have mood problems and haven’t seen a doctor, try to (even if paying for it is tough, which for some starving artists it will be). You wouldn’t wait to have a broken bone looked at, would you?

    2–If your doctor is the kind who prescribes pills and that’s it, learn other tactics on your own. Read something! One good book, for sufferers and those around them, is The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide. Useful brochures, very clear and simple, are available free for download from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_publications).

    3–Don’t feel responsible for having the problem. Your responsibility is only to work on it.

    This doesn’t answer Betsy’s questions. Maybe another comment…

  13. Bipolar? Me? Don’t think so. Never diagnosed as such, but never asked.

    Suicidal? Occasionally. Not so much anymore. Since a day fifteen years ago when I had to suppress the strong urge to throw myself out of a nineteenth-floor window (over a love affair! talk about skewed priorities), I’ve lived with the promise I made to myself then. No, it wasn’t, “No more love affairs,” it was, “Call a suicide hotline first, let someone talk you out of it.” Never have had to do that. Besides, there are people who love me, and I couldn’t hurt them by doing something that selfish (I hurt them instead by writing about them). I was saddened when Wallace decided he could no longer remain among the living, but I was also angered that he would take his gifts away from the world.

    As for powerful moods effecting my writing, for better or worse, well, sometimes living is like riding a spirited horse bareback. Over the years, I’ve learned better how to manage and focus the energies of my creativity. There really was no other choice, and through believing that there was no other choice, I was able to find my way out of swamps of despond.

    Strong blows cracked the crystal of my being when I was young. For many years, as I so slowly healed, I mollified the pain with self-applied medications. I figured head doctors would probably put me on something, so I saved them the trouble by putting myself on alcohol (for a decade) and marijuana (for my entire adult life). Sometimes there were days when I could not get up off the floor. There were stretches of time months-long when I could barely function and could not write. Through all of that, there remained deep within me the ever-glowing ember of my writerly self.

    Now I figure I’m just about as fine as I’m going to get, and it pleases me to believe that’s pretty damn fine. Do I miss the years of being strung-out, nursing my wounds? Can’t say that I much do. Do I think they contributed to the being I am now, and to the expression of that being through the literary arts? Yes. How could I think otherwise? All those years wasted? I don’t dare think of them as wasted, and I don’t dare waste what they brought me and what they brought me to. Remember that Blues Brothers line: “We’re on a mission from God”? Well… my mission is to bear witness through the written word.

    I work on my work every day. It is who I am and what I am. It saves my life. If some evil tyrant wanted to torture me to a slow death, the way to do it would be to stop me from writing. It frightens me just to write that.

  14. Because of untreated depression I couldn’t even start writing until finally getting treatment at 46, and then only after I nearly lost my son to the same beast. This “not losing my edge” BS also shows up in the glorification by every lit major of the tragic female poets Plath & Sexton who went down rather than fight it. Then there’s the I’m more spiritual cuz I don’t put anything in my body crowd…right other than self hate everyday and night. I’m with you. One pill a day and I’m back in the world pursuing my passions and not laying around figuring out how to off myself. Thanks for coming out!

  15. It doesn’t work for me to write when I feel good. I keep learning (and forgetting) that I will feel good when I have written.

    The same is true of exercise.

    In the 90s, though I was living among family and many friends, in a familiar city whose ways I knew (I had spent much of my life there), I came to feel that I wasn’t at home there. I didn’t know how big the place was that wasn’t my home; sometimes I thought it was the world, which is the kind of thinking that can lead to suicide. Lucky accidents and helpful people led me to another set of possibilities and eventually to another city, and they were better. Are better.

    The turnaround began with my mother, who pressed me repeatedly to see someone, who paid when I couldn’t pay, and who quietly supported the work of learning to manage. Some years later, I tried to return the favor, but my efforts didn’t succeed (I relieved only a few small burdens of hers), and she slipped away last year. That’s what I’m trying to write about these days. How to put a twist on the ending (to use Jessica Lei’s terms) is one of the challenges.

  16. I have my problems: I’m a left handed Capricorn and I’m going to die some day for ever and ever. I always hated my little sister and when she was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic I still hated her. Life. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. I don’t think creative people are any nuttier than the average grocery store check out clerk (by the way, if you’re in Pennsylvania beware of my little sister the next time you’re at Wawa), they are only more romantic about it.

    Having seen plenty of craziness up close (mental illness, if not hereditary in my family is at least very much in style) I can tell you that, seen from the outside, it’s a dead bore — misery, whatever its cause, looks utterly banal (from the outside). The only person whose depression I could take seriously was the elderly Halocaust survivor’s, who I brought to my house so I could watch out for her, wrapped up in blankets sitting on my couch for a week holding my cat on her lap until the meds took effect.

    It’s no wonder to me that life is depressing — it’s much more wonderful that people are happy. Happy, useful, kind, and not pissing me off one way or another. That’s what motivates me as a writer, all that hostile respect I have for the human race.

    • Love it, Vivian.

      Ah, my thoughts. I don’t believe anyone is grateful for illness. Sickness is a dark and lonely place. Just because I puke for hours straight and come out of it feeling a little dizzy and happy for being able to keep down a sip of ginger ale doesn’t mean I’m happy about being sick in the first place. Yes, it can be a catalyst to change and I think that’s what people mean. They are grateful to be alive and looking at the world in a kinder way.

  17. Daughter of an incendiary, angry and avenging bi-polar mother, most of my life I’ve vacillated between fretful solitude and obsequious attentiveness wanting to be alone, to avoid the obligation of others, yet terrified I would be alone forever.

    I wasted years with that kind of energy sapping over compensation trying to make the phantom past behave.

    No more.

    Act first and the feelings will follow. Sounds trite, I grant you, sounds like a greeting card, but it works.

    I get low, I get triggered, and I get over it.

    A diagnosis is not an identity card. There is something essential in everyone, something humane that cannot be quantified. Something amazing and life loving.

    And that’s what I’m looking for when I write.

  18. My doctor actually TOLD me that antidepressants would likely affect, or flatten, my writing. While it stops some from working at all, depression is a disease for some writers that acts as a toxic, terrible little fuel. We’re much more aware of what depression can do to a writer, at worst. But at best, when writing is the only reason to get out of bed, the insight it provides, the isolation, detail, and yes, humor–it is all a tricky and mysterious formula that often has people saying, “hey, you’re a good writer.”

  19. I don’t think my highs and lows are significant enough for a diagnosis. At least no therapist (3 in total) has indicated such. But then, I put on a good face during therapy because my family doesn’t have emotions. We control our emotions. Especially in front of strangers. Like therapists.

    I haven’t written or revised a speck this week. I thought it was because my husband and son are home instead of in school. I know that’s not it, though. It’s because the person I’m addicted to (who happens to be bipolar and sometimes takes his meds) is on a new low and he likes to make sure I’m part of the audience for it. And I cannot look away.

    • You’re free to ignore this or tell me if I’m out of line, but this subject we’re all talking about can be serious. So: IF that person on the new low isn’t taking his meds when you serve as audience, you may be participating in something that’s not entirely good. It’s a dilemma I’ve faced more than once, and it’s always hard to judge, but sometimes I’ve chosen to walk away from the bad scene for an hour, or a day, even for longer once, because otherwise I felt compromised, and sometimes it put an end to the bad.

      I’ve never known someone with bipolar disorder who hadn’t gone off the medication or tinkered with the dosage, but only one of them didn’t come to regret it, and that one is a poor example in many ways.

      Sorry if this didn’t need to be said.

      • John, I think it’s fine you said it. I did kind of a hit and run on my comment. The person I’m addicted to doesn’t live with me. In fact, he’s at a long distance from me. The most I can do is ride out the lows, encourage him to take his meds the right way and stay calm. If I take his slings and arrows too personally, I’d end up right down there with him. So I make myself scarce, offer an ear when it’s needed and wonder if this is finally it, the last time. (Sometimes I really wish it was, one way or another, which seems cruel.)

        And it takes me about a week to get back to normal for me so that I can write again.

        The times when I’ve tried to “walk away” for good, he comes around when he’s feeling good again and the cycle starts all over. Fun stuff. Short of never being online or answering my telephone again, I don’t know how to escape it.

        I believe this makes us co-dependent, right? I’ve stopped going to the therapist to explore it. Instead, I just write him into stories and then cut him out in edits as my own form of self-medication.

  20. I turned 50 and miraculously, I became happy. Or maybe it’s that I don’t give a shit any more.
    Either way, nothing seems nearly so dramatic to me. Clinical depression – bite me.
    I’ve done pills, therapy, and made a serious effort to become a raging alcoholic. Incredibly, I lived to see 50, and now all I worry about is whether I’ll ever stop having my period and if it’s possibe to hit 65 and still have acne. I don’t miss booze, or drama. I write every day.
    But I still self medicate and smoke like a train, so 70 is looking pretty dicey.

  21. Maybe because they’re alone in bringing up emotions, visions and things. Things that common mortals leave untouched, bury and sit on for a whole life.
    Like a pregnancy. Sometimes slow to come, sometimes ends before its time, delivery is painful. Also, once born, the baby can be disappointing…
    Maybe they create their pain or suffer from lack of success, awaited recognition. Or simply because creativity is only possible for the insane.

  22. 1. I’ve been around the block a few times as a non-fiction writer, and am now finding that after all these years of hard work and a satisfying amount of success I’m literally the low man on the totem pole when it comes to finding a helpful ear for my fiction (which is in my opinion MUCH better than my non-fiction ever was!)

    2. My dad died three weeks ago, after a brief (less than a week), unexpected illness.

    3. Two days after his funeral I was diagnosed with uterine cancer.

    4. I broke two front teeth and my dental insurance won’t take effect until October.

    5. The one of these that concerns me the most and is most likely to send me spiraling towards the bottom is the first thing on the list. I am depressed that it is so difficult in the publishing world, and I’m having to start from scratch again at this “advanced age” of 52.

    Cancer? Been there done that (breast, four year survivor). This time it’s a snap; robotic hysterectomy and I’m back at the computer in four days. My dad lived 80 years and prayed to die in his sleep and his prayers were answered. The teeth will eventually get fixed and until then, heck, what do I have to smile about anyway?

    The point of all that is to say that life in all its ups and downs is what we make of it. It is who we are when we wake up in the morning that makes the decision about how we will react to the things that happen to us. I’ve been on mild antidepressants since I was 30. My mom was an undiagnosed-except-by-me bipolar schizophrenic who was a lovely woman when she wasn’t stark raving mad. I thank heaven for pharmaceuticals that gave me a choice that she never had. Even with drugs though sometimes we have no control over what our minds tell our bodies to do. Most of us have black dogs nipping at our heels for much of our lives. Some days we’re able to toss them a Milkbone and they go back to their den for a while, other days it seems easier to just let them feast on us. We learn to write the highs in our stories on the days that we feel them and the lows when we can best describe them from a personal point of view. And on other days, if we’re good writers, we’ve learned to fake it well enough to get the right thought across to readers. (I find Sometimes writing a high when I’m feeling low can actually give me a lift).

    Do writers have more bouts with depression than “normal” people? I think maybe we just are honest with ourselves about it more often because we’re used to working in our heads. And working alone. You have to know yourself pretty well to be a good writer. Self-awareness is the first step to treating any problem. Says the woman who suddenly has 50 pounds too many under her belt (or it would be if any of them still fit me).

    Thanks Betsy for being honest. For introducing to the world the you that you see when you look in a mirror. Most people could benefit from that kind of honesty.

  23. My mood has little to do with whether I put my butt in that chair and get to work or not.

    Right now everything is in chaos — serious illness in the family, recent deaths, preparing to relocate.

    I still get my butt in the chair every day and do my daily quota and meet all my deadlines.

    If I feel like crap, too bad for me. It’s up to me to effing deal.

    Are there times when it’s hard to focus, when I’m in pain or distracted? Of course. But there’s a bigger picture beyond the moment — my writing allows me to have a life. I don’t have to work a job I hate — I get to do something i love. Life isn’t easy — but it’s all material.

    Part of being a professional is showing up and getting it done, no matter what it going on internally.

  24. I’ve never commented on here, but this post really touched me, since someone in my life was recently diagnosed as Bipolar I. I see the ups and downs, the flying-high-as-a-kite followed by a day in bed feeling like shit. There’s no up side. No making lemonade. Just the hope that this person will take their meds, knowing they won’t, but hoping next time they will…

  25. If I can, I’d like to recommend a recent book on bipolar. Hilary Smith wrote it as the book she wished she’d had when bi-polar hit her in college, and it’s as frank, funny, and shit-kicking honest as this blog.

    http://www.amazon.com/Welcome-Jungle-Everything-Bipolar-Freaked/dp/1573244724/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1285442905&sr=1-1

  26. Glad you shared, Betsy. From my own little slice of depression (probably from early teens on) and from all I’ve read and studied (and my hubby’s bigger slice of depression and OCD), I know that being bipolar (etc) is a disease. Sitting down to work isn’t always going to be possible, no matter how positive and New Agey one’s beliefs. When you’re really really down (or even manic, perhaps?), being creative just doesn’t matter. Living barely matters.

    I did a blog post on this, an interview with a wise doc/poet, that sheds light on the topic (truly): http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creating-in-flow/200811/route-creativity-depressed-poets

  27. I was born, or so my father tells me, with psychic gifts. It is true that since i can remember–which by the way, is from a very, very young age–I have been very aware of what I deem the other world, things that you need a sense other than sight to see.

    Does my medication slow the pumping of that ethereal organ? Absolutely. I don’t reach out to touch ghosts as freely as I once did, with all this salt in my veins.

    Nor, however, do I dream of cutting my wrists with my best kitchen knife without being able to stop, as though my illness were a possessing entity that could, at any time, force me to destroy myself. I can sleep without having to check the closet three times and under the bed twice. I write a little every day instead of in manic bursts that more often as not ended in tears and long periods of being barren.

    I call it a fair trade. My illness did not make me creative, other than the fact that I first began to tell myself stories to protect myself from its darkest corners, writing walls, writing armor, writing escapes in to mental gardens that I had complete control over. I will most likely never be the kind of person that doesn’t eat pills with her morning coffee.

    But I will be a person that lives. I will be a person that writes.

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